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Tue Jan 8, 2013, 08:43 PM

The government's hunt for a Vatican envoy to pass muster

by John L. Allen Jr. | Jan. 7, 2013

Rome -- President Barack Obama needs to find a new envoy to the Vatican since Ambassador Miguel Diaz, appointed in 2009, has accepted a position as professor of faith and culture at the University of Dayton in Ohio. Obama's choice for a replacement is being closely watched in Rome, according to one senior Vatican diplomat, because it signals what kind of relationship Obama wants to have during his second term.

Filling the slot tends to be a special headache for Democratic presidents because they have to find somebody who can pass muster both with their party and with the Vatican. The custom that it has to be a Catholic complicates things further, because it's not just a candidate's policy positions that might cause problems, but his or her internal standing in the church.

For those with an appetite for speculation, names making the rounds include two members of the national "Catholics for Obama" team: Stephen Schneck of The Catholic University of America and Nicholas Cafardi of Duquesne University. Both would be acceptable to the White House, but might trip some wires on the Catholic side -- if not with the Vatican, which typically vetoes an appointment only if there are concerns about personal morality (especially marital status), then with the U.S. bishops.

Another hot tip is Ken Hackett, the former longtime president of Catholic Relief Services, who served on Obama's delegation to the consistory in Rome last February when both Timothy Dolan and Edwin O'Brien became cardinals. (For all intents and purposes, Hackett was the delegation, along with Diaz.)

http://ncronline.org/news/vatican/governments-hunt-vatican-envoy-pass-muster

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Response to rug (Original post)

Tue Jan 8, 2013, 10:21 PM

1. Reading the comments in that article...

It seems a number of people are asking why should we bother sending an ambassador at all?

Personally, I kind of like the idea of sending a non Catholic in and telling the Vatican to get over themselves if they don't like that.

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Response to 47of74 (Reply #1)

Tue Jan 8, 2013, 10:23 PM

2. A non-Catholic ambassador would distill the difference between state issues and religious issues.

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Response to 47of74 (Reply #1)

Fri Jan 11, 2013, 09:49 AM

9. Britain deliberately avoided Catholics for a few years

Once formal relations were re-established in the 20th century (having been broken off at the Reformation), there was an open yet unofficial policy that British ambassadors to the Holy See were not Catholics. The one before the current was the first Catholic, and our present ambassador isn't a Catholic.

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Response to rug (Original post)

Tue Jan 8, 2013, 11:27 PM

3. Hey, I'm looking for work. If this is a paid gig, why not me? ;-)

Consider my qualifications:

*Volunteered for, and donated to, OFA
*Active both in the Church and in Democratic politics
*I haven't angered any bishops yet
*Past Grand Knight of a Knights of Columbus council (and son of a District Deputy)
*Opposed the war in Iraq, just like the current President, the current Pope, and the latter's predecessor (and unlike some of the other ambassadors).

All I require is enough money to live on and a place to stay. Oh, and can we keep my views on marriage under wraps until my commission expires? I don't want to be kicked out or anything.

I'll be waiting by my phone, Mr. President!

All snark/joking aside, why is it not seen as a moral quandary when Republicans nominate ambassadors? Oh, that's right - because Republicans are, you know, more moral.

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Response to UrbScotty (Reply #3)

Tue Jan 8, 2013, 11:28 PM

4. If you get it, make me a consul.

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Response to rug (Reply #4)

Wed Jan 9, 2013, 11:01 PM

6. And make me something too

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Response to 47of74 (Reply #6)

Thu Jan 10, 2013, 12:12 AM

7. You have your choice between proconsul and monsignor.

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Response to rug (Original post)

Wed Jan 9, 2013, 10:00 PM

5. After reading this a second time, this 'dilemma' seems overblown.

The article notes that the Vatican almost never rejects ambassadors unless there are serious circumstances. From that, one can conclude that the Vatican has accepted ambassadors from the US and elsewhere who don't agree with all of its teachings.

I doubt Bush would've appointed an Iraq War opponent to any ambassadorship, even the Vatican. Yet despite the Vatican's opposition to the war, they never turned down Bush's ambassadors. And given that American politics is, generally speaking, more conservative than the politics of other countries, one could easily conclude that many ambassadors from other countries have been welcomed into the Vatican despite having views that are far more liberal than anyone who could win US Senate approval.

This article also assumes that the 'wrong' choice could anger the US Bishops. We've seen in the past year what happens when the bishops speak out about politics - people don't listen to them. People view bishops as teachers on matters of faith, not on matters of politics. The point is, maybe the bishops will be upset - but it won't matter.

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Response to UrbScotty (Reply #5)

Thu Jan 10, 2013, 12:22 AM

8. I think you're right.

It looks like the only Vatican requirement is that, whoever it is, the ambassador is not living a scandalous life. Appointing a Catholic is simply domestic politics and tradition.

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